Introduction Trouble with sleep is often accepted as a part of ageing with its prevalence reported up to half of the population surveyed. However it has been persuasively argued that in healthy ageing individuals, sleep need not diminish significantly or be of poor quality and that it is the chronic diseases and functional limitations that produce sleeping problems in the elderly. The objective of this study is to compare the prevalence of sleep problems and assess the influence of age, health and psycho-social factors in a sample of European countries.
Method Data of non-institutionalised Europeans above 50 years from the Study of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe were used. The outcome was a binary variable based on self reported sleep problems. Explanatory variables included age, gender, and various health, social and psycho-social factors. Statistical analysis was done using multiple logistic regression and multi-level models.
Result The prevalence of sleep problems ranged from 18% in Greece to 48% in Poland; Greece was an exception with other Southern European countries reporting more sleep problems. Age was significant factor only for women who had greater probability of sleep problems than men. Health was the major influence on sleep problems but psychosocial factors like trust in others and social factors like receiving help were also significantly associated.
Conclusions Health is the major influence on sleep with age significant only for women. However there are significant differences among European countries in the prevalence of sleep problems.
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